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Security Governance: An Alternative to Army Integration

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KUMAR LAMA argues on behalf of security governance as an alternative to the Army-PLA integration in Nepal

The issue of integrating the Maoist People’s Army (PLA) into Nepal Army has sparked a debate. Contesting remarks like ‘must be’, ‘must not be’ and ‘should be, but…’ are being aired constantly from all walks of life, almost everyday. My argument is that whatever the publicized or hidden motives behind proclaimed integration package, the end result must be productive. Defense expenditure must be reciprocal to the perceived threat; and in our context, enhancement of security governance could be the best possible alternatives for against NA/ PLA integration if we are to avoid any unnecessary economic, social and political burden.

The end of the Cold War was marked by the victory of liberal ideology over Marxism. Liberalism, in the form of democracy, democratic peace, freedom, human security, hostility to autocracy and privatization, is being embraced all over the world. As a consequence, state responsibility has been transferred to non-state actors like private security companies (PSC), IGO/INGO and other international organization. In other words, the concept of global governance or security governance has emerged.

Security governance (notice the two terms “security” and “governance” in this phrase) encompasses a broader sphere of security in a modern nation state. The end of the Cold War changed the notion of security and broadened its scope. Today “security” is a terminology applied broadly not only to the preservation of state boundaries, but also to the protection of societies and individuals within states. With the extension of the concept of security to new levels of analysis, threats are also perceived in broader terms. Threat to society and individuals from terrorism and conflicts overruled the traditional military threat to state territory. The expansion of the concept of security into non-military issues has therefore required reconsideration of new modality of security architecture. The new security needs at multiple dimensions and multiple levels could not be satisfied by mobilizing the limited state resources. Thus, states have favored the concept of security governance, in coordination with national governments, a variety of public and private actors. Private Security Companies (PSCs), the non-state actors, have come into existence, as a new state security actor (see note 1).

It should be noted that private security is not a new term in world history. Historically, Europe had already witnessed private security companies during the intervals of long wars and peacetimes. Between 1337 and 1453, Europe waged a 100-years war which ended with the Treaty of Bretigny. During war, recruiting saw massive increase, with the dawn of peace, the soldiers proved a burden to the state. Soldiers in huge numbers were released from duty. Unemployed but energetic soldiers organized themselves and started to offer their service to then medieval rulers. Rulers from medieval Europe happily accepted the security services from war veterans, and that for prices. Such security companies were very active in France and in Spain in the second half of 14th century. (See note 2)

The Anglo – French war (1688- 1697) cost so much expenditure that governments were not in position to provide even a regular salary to their respective soldiers. As an alternative, the noblemen of the time emerged as a ‘military entrepreneurs’ or ‘military enterprisers’ and state responsibility of security was shifted to private entrepreneurs. (see note 3). In modern, Europe, the birth of Danish east India company (1616-1800) and English East India company (1659) happened under private entrepreneurs with a granted monopoly over particular goods and geographical areas. They were even privileged to wage a war on behalf of crown (see note 4).

In beginning of 20th century, as a result of the end of cold war and the fall of WARSAW pact, states were compelled to downsize their armed forces. Reduction of armed forces caused early retirement of many of war veterans. The retired veterans organized private security companies in order to sell their fighting skills in a globalized private marketplace as commodity – a buyable and sellable item. State, multinational corporations, INGOs, and private firms emerged as new clients in security market. This activity even crossed the traditional borders and changed into lucrative translational business (see note 5). Today Worldwide security business is estimated to have a total value of US$67.6 billion, with continually high growth rate predicted (See note 6).

Moreover, induction of private security has also changed the modality of warfare. Initially, war used to be fought at three levels - state, army and people. This war architecture has been replaced by modified version of three tier - military, INGO and PSCs - military in the front, NGO/INGO in the middle (as a humanitarian intervention) and private security company at the rear for logistic backup and communication. The Guardian newspaper claims that approximately 40,000 plus private security personals were employed in Iraq; which becomes 3:1 in ratio to that of British Soldiers (see note 7). With reference to commitment displayed by both McCain and Obama, fighting against terrorism will continue in years to come, with ample opportunities for private security companies. Oil rigs, pipelines, power stations, water supply protection, convoy protections, VVIP protection, policing, static and mobile guarding, humanitarian interventions and protection to NGO/INGO in conflict zone could be the area of responsibilities for security companies within the state and in global market. Depending upon efficiency of central government, traditional security areas like airport security, boarder security and anti-terrorism could be handed over to PSC.

It is an open secret that hundreds of Nepalis, including ex-servicemen from the British army, Indian army and Nepal army are working under different private security companies in Iraq, Afghanistan and other part of the world. Foreign PSCs are cashing on the Gorkha Brand, a uniquely Nepali brand. Recently, G4S London has established a separate wing which is comprised of only ex-Gorkhas. The Guardian reported that Agies (owned by Col Tim, the owner of Sandline) has offices in London, Washington, Kabul, Saudi, and in Nepal (see note 8). Canada, Switzerland, South Africa and many more countries have already amended their constitution, providing extra lubrication to Private Military Companies, based on global market. We are already lagging behind in this debate in CA over the issue of PSCs, allocation of legislative authority and establishment of monitoring and regulating mechanism. Those unexplored fields must be explored as soon as it possible and in contrast to the orthodox thinking of NA/ PLA integration, the government must analyze alternative options like security governance- privatization of security.

Shall we start our home work by arranging, for example, a bidding requirement for security contract in Afghanistan? If it is too costly for initial approach, shall we have a sub-contract from bigger companies like BLACK WATER or AGIES, particularly for human resources and training? We should keep account of our peculiar terrain which could be the best geography for induction training for private security personals form Nepal and from abroad.

In the meantime, it will be noteworthy to cap private security arrangement in relation to the recent visit to Nepal by former US President Jimmy Carter. Our prime minister can also have similar pattern of private security which allows him to hire his trusted members from PLA in a legal or democratic way. If business tycoons or politicians want to use this service they all will have common access to the commodity. The government will have to pay less if it finds an alternative to the existing uniformed security mechanism.

South Africa already is a good example of security governance. By the end of apartheid (1994), the armed forces were downsized in both the police and armed forces. The prematurely retired youth had happily joined the private security business. Between 1997 and 2000, in South Africa, the number of security officers grew from 115,000 to 166,000 and security became one of the fastest growing commodities. Large international security companies like Group4Securicor, Chubb and ADT have also gained significant presence in the country. Group 4 Securicor alone has employed more than 16,000 guards. By 2004, some 3, 553 private security companies were registered with the Private Security Regulatory Authority, employing 265,000 active security personnel with a total business of 14 billion rands (South African currency), which was worth to R2 billion in 1997. It is interesting to note that government police in policing duty has been reduced to 1:3 in ratio; with a margin of 98,000 Vs 265,000; as of June 2004 (see note 9).

As part of this transformation, all police stations across South Africa are guarded by private security companies, in recognition that commercial guards are cheaper than conventional police force. In addition to this, policing concept has been reframed by integrating public, private and communal authority into single policing practices.

The Cape Town Central City Improvement District’ (CCID) initiative is one of the most extensive examples of such public–private policing partnerships. The City Improvement District (CIDs) are non-profit organizations that are established when property owners in an area agree to levy an additional tax on their property, and the money collected is used to promote security, business and economic development in that particular area. At present, there are about 15 CIDs in and around Cape Town. As part of this effort, the CCID was established in November 2000, after the majority of property owners, or ratepayers in the area agreed to the payment of an additional top-up levy on their council bill. Today, the CCID collects about R15 million annually from the 1200 ratepayers within the area. Of this amount, approximately 50 per cent is allocated to security. The remainder is spent on the CCID’s other three areas of responsibility such as cleaning the city, marketing and social development (see note 10)

In Nepal, Kathmandu Municipality had ventured into the area of security governance by introducing Mahanagariya Prahari, a City Police initiative. Unfortunately, this security organization has seemingly confined itself into chasing street vendors rather than implementing security. Hence, instead of creating a permanent security mechanism like Mahanagariya Prahari, government/local authority should think about hiring private security companies by price competition. Doing so will obviously be cheaper and efficient. Gradually this concept can be expanded up to the district headquarters level and to the VDC level. Furthermore, it can also be mobilized to arrange logistic back up for the army, police and even for peace keepers.

In conclusion, we must be aware that concept of security is constantly changing. In the Post- Cold War era, pre and post 9/11 connotation of security varies with different notions and perspectives. World economy, state and sovereignty are in transitional phase. These may bear different definition in the context of ongoing battle against terrorism. This is a time when the EU and America and the entire developed world are preparing to cope with the changing times and the eventualities. Amid these developments, it is time to wake up from the myths of a possible India-Nepal conflict or the problems of nation to nation war, at least between Nepal and others. Defense and development must go hand in hand and they must contribute to economic development. We need to explore new approaches in relation to contemporary global politics. Hence, security governance, with a massive participation of ex- security personnel, the PLA and civilians would be the best available solution for the present deadlock. Such arrangement will not only provides economic opportunities but also help end blaming one another that the army and the proposed integration can be a societal, economical and political burden.

Kumar Lama contributed this article to Nepal Monitor. He studies International relations at University of Sussex, UK. He can be reached at


1. Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighborhood: The Report of the Commission on Global Governance, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, pp.77-134. Online at:
2. See Kenneth Fowler (2001), Medieval Mercenaries: The great companies (Vol. 1). Oxford. Blackwell.
3. See Geoffreyn Parker (1995), The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare: The Triumph of the West. Cambridge, University press, 1995, pp.147 - 8
4. See Klein P.W (1981). “The origin of trading companies,” In Blusse, Leonards and Gaastra, Femme( eds). Companies and Trade: Essay on Overseas trading Companies During the Ancient Regime, Leiden, Leiden University Press,1981, p. 23.
5. Chrisopher Spearin (2005), “Humanitarians and Mercenaries: Partners in Security Governance,” In Elke Krahman (ed.), New Threats and New Actors in International Security, NY: Palgrave Macmillan Press, Ch. 3, p. 45.
6. Credit Suisse/First Boston, Review of the South African Private Security Industry, (n.p.: Credit
Suisse/First Boston), 7 February 2001.
7. See http//
8. Also see http//
9. Rita Abrahamsen and Michael C. Williams (2007), “Securing the City: Private Security Companies and Non-State Authority in Global Governance,” in Journal of international Relations, vol. 21 pp. 244-5. Online at [Accessed 21 June 2008].
10. Also Rita Abrahamsen and Michael C. Williams; 2007, p. 246.

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